Laurel’s Leaves Competition

Cool news for yours truly! Laurel and Laurel’s Leaves chose my scene from “Mourn Their Courage” as her first runner up scene in her Eleventy One Contest. I’m thanking God for this and the Sandy. They’ve given me hope this month. As an addendum, I encourage everyone to check out all of Laurel’s comments. She’s got some great insights, not to mention a very gracious style.

Laurel’s contest centered around a dialogue-driven instance of negotiation or persuasion. In my scene, the former Chancellor/would-be usurper uses persuasion. All comments, suggestions and critiques are welcome.

An ascetic, narrow-faced man covered with scars approached. At first, Xiongli believed he was another servant. Then he noticed the direct gaze and confident stride, so he rose and nodded his greeting to Yang Wu, Guild Master of the Brothers of Life.

Wu returned the nod, but did not bow. Xiongli smiled. Everything he’d heard of this man might be true, then.

“We can return to my office where it’s warmer, my Lord,” Wu said. He politely did not comment on Xiongli’s guards who stood within sword range.

“Forgive my reaction to recent attacks on my person, Guild Master Yang.”

“It is an overreaction, my Lord. This is a guild. We have no political goals.” Wu gestured to the marble bench, and they sat side by side as if they were old friends.

Birds sang and the creek feeding the pond continued its chatter, but Xiongli clutched a dagger inside his sleeve.

“You have political ties and power,” he said. The smile felt painted on his face, but he wanted to put Wu at ease. “You have a traitor amongst you, Guild Master.”

Yang Wu produced a rice cake and crumbled pieces into the pond. Mustached, gasping mouths rushed to the surface. “One man does not equal the guild โ€“ Chancellor.”

Xiongli’s face flushed and the smile vanished. He calmed himself. If Wu wanted to attack, he would have done it by now. This man had ambitions, and Xiongli knew how to work with men like that.

“Tell me, Guild Master, has Tong Zhang written requesting money and food yet?”

“He has.” Wu crumbled more of his rice cake into the waiting mouths below. “You ought to know I cannot deny a guild member his rights-“

“I do. How long have you held your office, Yang Wu?”

Wu stiffened. It was the slightest of reactions. A flick of rice cake. A tic of facial muscles. Yet the implied threat was received. Now the enticement.

“You can deny him whatever you wish,” Xiongli said. “He is a traitor to the Empire and should be denied.” Silence reined for a moment as Xiongli let his words sink in.
Then he turned to Wu again and allowed the painted, friendly expression to return to his face. “You and your guild would be compensated.”

“A traitor to the Empire is still not a traitor to his guild, Lord Hu.”

“Ah, but if he is not a traitor to his guild, then what Empire does the guild serve?”

Threat, offer and threat were made. Now Xiongli forced himself not to smile. Yang Wu crumbled the last of the rice cake between finger and thumb.

“And if I were to give Zhang his money and food,” Wu raised his hand to stop Xiongli’s response, “but gave you the location for those deliveries, would that be sufficient?”

Xiongli didn’t answer. Let him sweat. At last, he nodded. “That is acceptable, Master Yang.”

“Zhang tells me they expect their first delivery in Xien Ye, a month from now.”

“Excellent. I will leave you, as I am sure you have business to attend to.”

“Please excuse me for not seeing you out.” Wu stood.

“Of course,” Xiongli murmured.

He left Yang Wu standing beside the pond where carp swam their placid, uneventful courses amid a garden of cypress and bird song.




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25 Responses to โ€œLaurel’s Leaves Competitionโ€

  1. Tricia J. O'Brien says:

    Victoria, I read this on Laurel's blog and came over to congratulate you and say how gorgeous this scene is. I think Laurel's use of the word "elegant" is spot on. I was completely drawn in to this world and the intricate dance of power between these men.

  2. Janet Johnson says:

    You already know I think you're an amazing writer. Congratulations! Beautiful piece.

    (I do think that "silence reined" should be "silence reigned" . . . but I only notice because I keep finding the same mistake in my own manuscript).

    Can't wait to hear about the Sandy!

  3. Karen Lange says:

    Congrats again, and happy weekend!

  4. Victoria Dixon says:

    AARRRGHHHH! Thanks, Janet! What would I do without you? You know what I probably did? I bet I had it spelled right at one point, but only because I spelled it uniformally that way. It does not have the "g" when used in conjunction with a horse. ๐Ÿ™‚ I suspect I did a "find" and started clicking the replace in an automatic mind-frame. *spanks herself.*

  5. Elana Johnson says:

    I saw it over there and clicked over here. It's beautiful. And congratulations!

  6. Jeannie Lin says:

    Congratulations! Very quietly powerful scene. I'm glad that your writing is starting to get recognition. Shows that things are moving in the right direction!

  7. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, Elana and Jeannie! Jeannie, I hope you're right. I know it's under review with two agents, but it's impossible to tell if the other agents have received it. I'm glad I decided long ago not to dye my hair because I'd go broke in one year buying dye. LOL

  8. Natalie Aguirre says:

    Congrats. It's so well written. I really enjoyed the authenticity of it.

  9. laurel says:

    Just swinging by to say thanks again for entering my contest. Your piece was a thrill to read–so (can I say it again?) elegant.

    I wish you every success with this book!

  10. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Natalie!
    And thank you so much for the opportunity, Laurel! It's a wonderful contest and you did an awesome job commenting on everyone's work. I really appreciated the comments – they were worth it all on their own! LOL

    That said, I wanted to let you know the book arrived today and I'm enjoying reading it. Thanks again! I'll pop in later. My daughter will explode if she doesn't get to go play.:)

  11. ~Nicole Ducleroir~ says:

    I read this on Laurel's blog and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Your writing flows with elegant ease, and the undercurrents of tension in this dialog-driven scene were delicious. Congrats on placing!

  12. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, Nicole! I'm so grateful for everyone's comments. This has been a wonderful conclusion to the week.

  13. Lisa K. says:

    Congratulations! What a beautiful piece of writing. I love the imagery throughout the scene.

  14. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, Lisa! I appreciate you taking the time to stop in and say that. ;D

  15. sarahjayne smythe says:

    Hi, there. I read this over at Laurel's blog and wanted to congratulate you and tell you what a gorgeous piece this is. And to let you know that I'm now following you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, SarahJayne! I visited you as well and really liked your site. You do a great job of asking your reader questions and you reminded me of something very important: blogs aren't just about conveying knowledge you know. I tend to forget about that in my rush to complete posts. ;D Thank you!

  17. Christina Farley says:

    Congratulations! What lovely writing. I like the tidbits of period and cultural details.

  18. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, Christina! In case you're wondering, this was the good news I couldn't discuss. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Emily Ann Benedict says:

    Congrats! Winning a contest is so encouraing.
    I love writing dialouge, so I'll give you an extra congrats for yours! ๐Ÿ˜€

  20. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, Emily Ann! I appreciate that since the dialogue on this was the hardest part. ;D

  21. SAMUEL PARK says:

    Great scene! I love the juxtaposition of the pond at the end with the conflict between the two–there's a tension created there that feels very powerful. I also like how you describe how one feels in ways that aren't obvious, or cliche. Congrats on the contest!

  22. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks for the comment on the cliches, especially, Samuel! I try to avoid them like the plague, but sometimes they're just a dead opossum in the middle of the road, ya know? LOL

    Seriously, they're hard to avoid and I appreciate it whenever someone notices the lack. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Cara Lopez Lee says:

    Congratulations, Victoria. You've created a great sense of menace and suspense here. It makes me want to know what led up to this scene, and what comes next. I love the crumbling of the food into the pond to feed the fishes. It gives a nice rhythm to the pacing, and deepens the sense of the tension, threat, and manipulation between the two men.

  24. catwoods says:

    Congrats! Your scene was wonderful and I have my fingers crossed for you regarding the considering agents.

  25. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, Cara and Cat! I really appreciate all the wonderful comments on this scene. Cara, what led up to this scene was an attempted assassination of Xiongli by the men he's fishing for in this scene. They've fled town, but not before Xiongli killed at least 800 people trying to reach them. Nice guy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I'm afraid at least one of those agents never received my query last January. Sigh. Don't know for sure, but he hasn't responded to my status inquiry, either. Not a good sign.

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